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Best poster award for Portuguese maize and beans

Agriculture project stakeholders meet in Italy

Oeiras, 27.04.12

ITQB PhD student, Mara Lisa Alves, from the Plant Cell Biotechnology Lab, received the Best Poster Award at the 1st SOLIBAM Stakeholder congress - "Shaping the future of agriculture: The role of diversity in low-input and organic cropping systems" that took place last week in Grottaferrata/Rome, Italy. The work, developed under the SOLIBAM European project, characterized the genetic diversity of Portuguese maize and beans landraces as a starting point to evaluate the molecular differences caused by different management and breeding practices. The overall objective of this work is to develop an efficient tool for the conservation and management of these important plant resources on effective quality participatory breeding.

The objective of SOLIBAM is to develop novel breeding approaches integrated with management practices to improve the performance, quality, sustainability and stability of crops adapted to organic and low-input systems in Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. The underlying hypothesis is that diverse populations in diverse organic and low-input systems are more resilient to stress and can therefore better adapt to environmental variation. At this first stakeholders congress the scientific committee awarded the authors of the most innovative (and most interesting for farmers) poster.


Poster Abstract

Portuguese Maize and Common Bean Landraces II – An ancient association under molecular scrutiny

M.L. Alves (ITQB), M. Dinis (ITQB), S.T. Leitão (ITQB), Z. Satovic (Zagreb University), P. Mendes-Moreira (ESAC/ITQB) and M.C. Vaz Patto (ITQB)

Nowadays, traditional landraces face real risk of disappearance and with that unique genetic resources will be lost. On farm conservation, with farmers’ engagement through participatory breeding approaches, may halt this loss by improving those landraces and increasing their market value.
Having this in mind, members of our team engaged in a field expedition to the Central region of Portugal to collect enduring landraces. In this region farmers grow maize landraces, known for its good bread quality, in association with common bean local varieties, in a traditional intercropping practice. These collected landraces may represent important sources of genes and genes combinations not yet available for crop quality breeding programs. The study of the landraces’ associated genetic diversity is fundamental for an efficient conservation and management of these interesting plant resources on effective quality participatory breeding.
Under the framework of the “SOLIBAM” European project, we characterized the genetic diversity present on the collected maize and beans Portuguese landraces as a starting point to evaluate the changes, at the molecular level, caused by different management (sole crop vs. intercropping) and breeding practices (on-station vs. on-farm participatory selection). This diversity characterization provided also, in association with the original quality evaluation, important information for the selection of landraces to field trial under specific cropping systems.


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